Say Don’t Say: Burn Notice

“Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.” (James 3:5-6)

Anyone else feel like getting a tongue-ectomy right now? Yikes! James does not hold back when it comes to describing our power to use words for great evil. He says each of us carries the spark of hell behind our teeth, ready to burn our lives, our relationships, and our futures to the ground.

fishmouth_350God’s Word uses explosive language here to make a powerful argument. Words are like fire. Fire is a good thing — a powerful and necessary part of our survival. But fire out of control burns everyone caught in its path. And the fire of our words often burn out of control.

You’ve felt it. A careless insult tossed your way lands like a stick of dynamite in your soul. Your own words, meant to be funny or helpful, come out wrong and singe the emotions of your closest friends. But wait; it gets worse in tomorrow’s passage.

Think: If words can be so destructive, why do you think God gives us the power to talk and write and e-mail? Wouldn’t we all be better off on permanent mute?

Pray: Ask God to help you to be convinced that what you say, how you say it, to whom you say it, and when you say it really matters. Ask Him for the wisdom and self-control not to burn anyone with your words today.

Do: Look for smoke. Keep watch this week for examples of words used to hurt or destroy, even by people who like each other.